When the van pulled up outside of the archaic brick building, I braced myself for the cold and bolted (carefully) across the street, following behind Tracey Levine, the director of Arcadia’s creative writing concentration, and the eight other creative writing majors from Arcadia University that traveled with us into West Philly to visit the Mighty Writers campus.
Initially, an email had gone out to all members of the Arcadia creative writing concentration inviting us to meet with the volunteers and talk about why we had chosen to pursue writing in college. And as soon as I heard the news, I knew I had to get involved!
Mighty Writers offers writing workshops to help school-aged Philadelphia students get ready for the writing section of the SAT, their college application essays, and any other written communication they might have to do in the future. When students come in, they get to work with tutors on improving their use of things like craft, rhetoric, and organization. It is within these tutoring sessions that the Mighty Writer is born.
It was cold as we crossed the street but, from the moment we stepped inside the building, all thoughts of the chilly weather were banished from our minds. The space was warm and inviting, welcoming us in with colorful tapestries and fun pictures of The Amazing Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk plastered on the walls. Above the doorways, inspirational quotes reminded us of Nelson Mandela’s words, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” And in the middle of the room sat a small audience of local students all turned towards a tiny red stage. Raven and Ron, two student volunteers and veterans of the Mighty Writers program, introduced themselves and explained how the writing workshops helped them become better writers and develop an interest in pursuing further education after high school.
And then it was our turn to share.
One by one, we climbed up onto the little red stage to share with the audience of young West Philadelphians our original poetry or fiction. We ended the night with a panel discussion, during which we fielded questions about how we got started with writing, what made us want to study it professionally, and what types of jobs were available to us after graduation.
The night was amazing. Honestly, I haven’t gotten much of a chance to volunteer or get off campus since I came to Arcadia, but participating in this experience made me remember how rewarding giving back to the community can be. And based on my time in Arcadia’s Writing Center and my passion for creative writing, you know I’m going to give any organization like this a big thumbs up!
I hope someday to get involved with an organization like Mighty Writers, and maybe one day I can go back and visit their little spot of warmth in West Philly where I was introduced to writing as community service.